Interstate 42

Interstate 42

Proposed Routing

U.S. 70 between Raleigh and Morehead City plays important roles, including being a primary hurricane evacuation route as well as being a major corridor for freight transport. Future Interstate 42 generally follows the U.S. 70 corridor southeasterly, connecting Garner, Clayton, Smithfield, Selma, Goldsboro, Kinston, New Bern and Havelock with the Port of Morehead City.

I-42 will begin at a systems interchange under construction with I-40 and Toll NC 540 (South Wake Expressway) near Garner and follow U.S. 70 southeast toward Smithfield, Selma and I-95. Near Goldsboro, I-42 will overtake the U.S. 70 Bypass around the north side of the city. A new bypass will carry I-42 around the south side of Kinston, connecting with the existing controlled access and freeway portions east to New Bern. Southeast of New Bern, Future I-42 will follow another new bypass to the west of Havelock. Ultimately I-42 will end near the Port of Morehead City.

In addition to connecting Morehead City with the Raleigh area, I-42 would also link Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station to the Interstate system.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) officials at the Fall 2021 meeting approved the request by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) for the establishment of Interstate 42 along 21.56 miles across Wayne and Lenoir Counties. NCDOT subsequently received approval by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on March 16, 2022 to designate I-42 along two separate segments. The western section overlays U.S. 70 for ten miles in Johnston County from I-40 east to U.S. 70 Business / Exit 326  south of Clayton. The eastern section stretches 22 miles covering all of U.S. 70 Bypass to the north of Goldsboro and on a portion of U.S. 70 east to the exchange with NC 903 / Exit 372 near La Grange.5

Converting U.S. 70 to Interstate 42

The remaining controlled-access portions of U.S. 70 between Clayton and Morehead City are gradually being upgraded to freeway standards, and as each new section is constructed or upgraded, they will be submitted for inclusion into the Interstate system. Projects currently underway or planned for Interstate 42 include:

  • U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass – from just west of NC 581 in Wayne County to just east of Promise Land Road in Lenoir County. Built in three stages, the western half of the 20 mile long bypass was complete from U.S. 70 in Wayne County to Wayne Memorial Drive by October 2015. The remaining 12.5 mile connection back to U.S. 70 in Lenoir County opened May 27, 2016.4 An additional 6.7 miles of U.S. 70 will be upgraded to Interstate standards
  • from the Goldsboro Bypass to Princeton with right of way acquisition starting in 2024 and construction in 2026.
  • U.S. 70 Kinston Bypass – previously unfunded per the NCDOT 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Plan,2 the 2018-27 plan allocates $381.1 million for the project. A southern alternative of a U.S. 70 bypass near Kinston was preferred over several northern alternatives. Estimated costs were $181 million.2 Alternative 1SB was selected and a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision are expected in 2022-23. Right of way acquisition is anticipated for 2026 with construction to be determined.
  • U.S. 70 Improvements in James City – this project will make improvements to the U.S. 70 corridor through the James City area from south of the exchange with U.S. 17 to south of Garner Road. Construction on the $327.56 million project runs from Spring 2022 to late 2024.
  • U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass – from north of the Havelock City limits and extends south for approximately 10 miles to north of the Craven-Carteret county line. At an estimated cost of $167.2 million, construction on the limited access bypass started in September 2019. Work runs through Spring 2024.

U.S. 412 in Oklahoma and Arkansas

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) submitted applications to AASHTO for the Fall 2023 Meeting of the Route Numbering Committee to establish U.S. 412 between I-35 in Noble County, OK and to I-49 in Springdale, AR as Interstate 42. The proposed route is 190 miles in Oklahoma, using the Cimarron Turnpike east toward Tulsa and the Cherokee Turnpike east beyond Tulsa. The proposed 11 miles in Arkansas include Arkansas Route 612 along the Springdale Northern Bypass.

The premise behind numbering U.S. 412 as I-42 along this corridor relates to the similarity in numbers. However, with an already established Interstate 42 in North Carolina, AASHTO approved the application with condition. The numbering conveys that the two corridors may be joined at some point, which is not going to be the case. As such, both states withdrew their respective applications for further review.

High Priority Corridor

Proposed Interstate 42 is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act high priority future Interstate corridor, which is designated as Corridor 82.

Route Information

  • East End – Morehead City, NC

  • West End – Garner, NC

  • Branch Routes – 0

  • Mileage – 21.56

  • Cities – Garner, Clayton, Smithfield, Selma, Goldsboro, Kinston, New Bern, Havelock, Morehead City

  • JunctionsI-40 I-795
Begin Future I-42 - Clayton, NC

Future Interstate 42 corridor signs were posted at the eventual west end of the route along the Clayton Bypass in 2016. 12/15/16


Defined as High Priority Corridor #82 from the December 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, U.S. 70 between Garner and Morehead City became designated as a future interstate corridor. While a few designations were proposed (I-46 by the Transportation Alliance and I-50 by the Super 70 Corridor Commission), the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) had submitted Interstate 36 for the 137 mile long corridor. The I-36 proposal was discussed at the May 24, 2016 American Association State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering meeting, but instead of the I-36 designation, AASHTO officials approved Interstate 42 for the U.S. 70 corridor.3 With an official number assigned for the corridor between I-40 and Morehead City, “Future I-42” signs could be installed along various segments, pending approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).3

Also, unlike Interstate 36, the I-42 designation fits into the Interstate system number grid, following a course completely north and east of I-40.

Photo Guides

East End  – Morehead City, North Carolina

The eastern end of Interstate 42 will connect with U.S. 70 in the Morehead City area. The easternmost freeway portion planned thus far is the Havelock Bypass, which will tie into U.S. 70 north of Newport.

West End I-40 US 70 – Garner, North Carolina

Future I-42 US 70 West at I-40

US 70 west at I-40 - Garner, NC

Construction started in 2019 for the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension (NC 540) builds a systems interchange joining the toll road with I-40 and Future I-42 in place of the trumpet interchange at Exit 308. 12/15/16 12/15/16

US 70 west at I-40 - Garner, NC

U.S. 70 ties into Interstate 40 west from the Clayton Bypass just beyond the Wake County line. U.S. 70 shifts north from the future west end of I-42 along I-40 to the succeeding exit for Garner. 12/15/16

US 70 west at I-40 - Garner, NC

Interstate 40 travels north to I-87/440 at Southeast Raleigh. U.S. 70 branches west through Garner along an arterial route to U.S. 401. I-40 east runs south to Interstate 95 near Benson. 12/15/16

I-40 East at Future I-42 US 70

I-40 east two miles ahead of US 70 and Future I-42.

Part of the Complete 540 construction project, road work through 2024 replaces the trumpet interchange (Exit 309) along I-40 at U.S. 70 with a turbine interchange joining the toll road with both I-40 and Future I-42. 12/27/22

I-40 east 1.5 miles from US 70/Future I-42 east and Toll NC 540 west.

Exit 309 for U.S. 70 east to Clayton will be replaced by a new ramp preceding the connection to Toll NC 540 (Triangle Expressway) west. 12/27/22

I-40 east ahead of New Bethel Church Road and Exit 309 to US 70/Future I-42.

Exits for both Future I-42/U.S. 70 east to Smithfield and the Triangle Expressway (TriEx) west will separate from I-40 eastbound beyond the New Bethel Church Road (SR 2703) overpass. 12/27/22

I-40 east at US 70/Future I-42 east to Clayton and Smithfield, NC.

U.S. 70/Future I-42 branch east from I-40 near Garner to Goldsboro. The TriEx west will leads to Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs. 12/27/22


  1. U.S. 70 Kingston Bypass, NCDOT website.
  2. Strategic Transportation Investments, NCDOT website.
  3. “North Carolina Gains Names for Two New Interstate Designations.” NCDOT website.
  4. “U.S. 70 Goldsboro bypass opening Friday”, (news and TV).
  5. “Interstate 42 Coming to Eastern N.C. Corridor.” North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), press release. March 16, 2022.

Page updated February 3, 2024.